“The first and best victory is to conquer self.” – Plato
Easier said than done, Plato. You didn’t have the distractions that come with the 21st century. Many of us have been born into a culture of not thinking for ourselves. Why would we? There’s always someone or something to lead us. We have been led since the first day of school and all through university. We’ve become so comfortable with being led that sometimes it’s hard to lead yourself.
This is Self Leadership. It means developing a sense of self, understanding your abilities, knowing where you want to get to and then having the discipline to do the things that will get you there. Most importantly, it means doing all of this without having someone tell us to. Imagine you cloned yourself, but your clone is more of a natural leader than you are. A more emotionally mature you, who makes better decisions and probably dresses better. What are the qualities that set regular old ‘You’ and the new and improved ‘You 2.0’ apart? These are some of the qualities:
- Setting Goals – Self Leadership requires clear goals first and foremost. Any good leader, especially a leader within yourself, needs some sense of direction. You need to be specific too. What do you want? When do you want it? What would it be like if you reached your goal?
- Experimenting – If you follow a path set by others, you might reach your goals, fair enough. But it just wouldn’t be the same if you didn’t try to figure things out for yourself. Form your own opinions, make your own decisions and never stop experimenting.
- Learning Discipline – If you’re going to lead yourself, you will need discipline. Sitting around and waiting for someone to tell you what to do is so much easier than leading yourself to what you want. Learn to influence your own words, emotions and behaviour on the way to getting where you want to be.
- Toning Down the Pessimism – This is especially important with self leadership – it means having to do without a leader to motivate you. You don’t have to become one of those crazy optimistic people and annoy everyone – just tone down the pessimism and stop telling yourself how bad things are.
- Being Resilient – Whatever you want to do, it’s very likely you won’t get there with your first try. When your expected outcome isn’t the same as reality, you’ll feel stupid and maybe even hurt. This needs to change. Learn to deal with those emotions and try again. Only harder.
- Taking Responsibility – Every outcome is a result of our own actions. Self leadership means taking responsibility for our own actions and their outcomes.
Good self leadership can impact every area of your life in a great way. Try to make the qualities of the ‘You 2.0’ within you second nature. You’ll be amazed how good it feels to be in charge of your own success.